OSHA Civil Penalties on the rise for first time in over 25 years

Now is the time to make sure your safety programs are comprehensive and up to date and that all employees have received the safety training necessary for work. Since 1990, OSHA has not been able to increase the civil penalties it can impose when an employer is cited for a violation. That changed on November 2, when President Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Hidden within the act are terms requiring OSHA to significantly increase civil penalties. And this isn’t just a little increase, it is more of a “catch up” adjustment, resulting in a penalty increase of approximately 80 percent. In other words, a $7,000 cap on serious violations will increase to $12,600, and the $70,000 limit on willful and repeat violations will jump to $126,000. After this “catch up” adjustment is made, OSHA will continue to adjust penalties every year based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index. Increased penalties will take effect by August 1, 2016.

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